Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has changed his system whereby more pressure is on Eden Hazard to deliver the goods, according to Daily Telegraph journalist Matt Law.
The defending Premier League champions were beaten 1-0 by West Ham at the London Stadium on Saturday with Conte conceding afterwards that his side were no longer in the title race.
Chelsea failed to attempt a single shot on target in the second half against the Hammers, despite having 71 percent of possession after the interval and Law believes sides are finding more ways to nullify the strengths of Conte’s men after a fourth league defeat of the season.
Speaking on the Sunday Supplement, he said: “They played really badly, started off really slow and they keep conceding the first goal. The worrying thing is that it’s getting to the stage where if you stop [Eden] Hazard, you stop Chelsea.
“He’s changed the system, taking Pedro and Willian out of the team and he’s playing Hazard alongside Alvaro Morata which puts so much pressure on Hazard. If you get him on a quiet day or you manage to stop him, they just fall down in the last third and that’s what happened against West Ham.”
Conte cited fatigue in the aftermath of the defeat to David Moyes’ side with the Italian making three changes to the team that drew against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League in midweek.
Chelsea have already dropped 16 points in their 16 Premier League games this season – they only dropped 21 in the whole of the 2016/17 season.
The Blues are 11 points adrift of leaders Manchester City ahead of their Super Sunday clash with Manchester United on Sunday, and Conte’s admission that he never felt his side were in contention for the Premier League trophy has raised a few eyebrows.
Law added: “That was the surprising element. I wasn’t surprised he said that ‘we were done’. He’s sort of been heading that way for a couple of weeks. He’s kept saying that it’s going to take something amazing to catch Manchester City.
“You felt for the last few weeks that he hasn’t really believed but this little add of ‘we were never in it’ is a flippant remark because he was upset about the defeat and that’s what made you look, as that will go down really badly with the Chelsea hierarchy.
“He was being honest about his own views, and it’s just another insight into how upset Conte was with how the summer went, and how frustrated he was that he didn’t get all of his targets.
“It just seems that whenever he has a bad spell or another defeat he can’t quite help himself going back to have another little dig at not getting what he wanted.”